Fritz Underground Winery
2008 Dry Creek Valley Estate Zinfandel
California: Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)
What we say
Top Staff Selection of 2011
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Mission Codename: Twenty gets you Forty
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Revisit Fritz Underground Winery, an Operative favorite. This time, procure their Estate Zinfandel, the perfect Holiday wine.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Fritz Underground Winery
Wine Subject: 2008 Dry Creek Valley Estate Zinfandel
Winemaker: Brad Longton
Backgrounder: We first discovered the Fritz Underground Winery in 2008. Back then, we were lucky to get our hands on an allotment of their spectacular wines. We now enjoy a special relationship with Fritz, who allows us special access to limited quantities of their wines.
The Dry Creek Valley AVA in northeastern Sonoma (north of Healdsburg) county is somewhat warmer and wetter than the Russian River Valley AVA region just to the south and the Alexander Valley AVA just to the east. The warmer and wetter climate provides great versatility with regard to the types of grapes that can be effectively cultivated in the region. This is an area best known for producing rather remarkable Zinfandel.
Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, which are characterized by their balanced flavors, is among the most popular wines of our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Cherry cocktail color with perfect clarity. Concentrated color from the heart of the wine, out to the edges of the glass. After swirling, the wine settles quickly, leaving behind tall, tightly-spaced legs that move very slowly down the glass.
Smell – Softly spiced fruit leaps from the glass after a hearty swirl. Blackberry, black cherry, red currant, bramble and subtle blueberry are the primary notes. After the wine breathes, it reveals hints of black pepper, bramble, dried fall leaves and subtle smoked cherry.
Feel – Soft and smooth up front, fast across the mid-palate and grippy at the edges, this wine has a complex yet lively feel. Bright acids and ultra-fine tannins add to the festive and softly full feel.
Taste – Sweet black cherry and raspberry juice lead the way. As the wine settles onto the palate, it reveals additional flavors of blackberry, soft brown spice and subtle hints of leather and black pepper.
Finish – Sweet and red with ultra long-lasting fruit. As the sweet flavors tail off, soft spice, pepper and leather mingle with a lasting acidity, leading to a soft dryness.
Conclusion – This is a beautiful, fun, lively, delicious wine that is so easy to drink – and so budget friendly – that you might want to purchase a whole case. Okay, two cases_! Today’s 2008 Fritz Underground Winery Estate Grown Zinfandel from the Zin-perfect Dry Creek Valley is a balanced wine that is a delight to enjoy on its own, but we must recommend it as a fantastic and very flexible food wine. We continue to be impressed with Clay Fritz’ wines, and we are certain that you will be, too.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Brad Longton
WINE EDUCATION: Self-Educated. Growing up in Perth, Australia, I became interested in wine while working at a wine retail store as a young adult. I originally started reading about winemaking so I could broaden my knowledge and increase my sales, but soon realized that I was drawn to winemaking as a career. Not soon after, I took a cellar job with Brown Brothers winery in Victoria, Australia and was quickly immersed in the production of Riesling, Chardonnay and Syrah.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: In an effort to expand my winemaking experience and exposure to other wine regions of the world, I traveled to Sonoma County in 2000 to work in the cellar at Murphy-Goode Winery and later at Clos du Bois. I returned to Australia in 2002 to take a position at Amberley Estates in Margaret River. However, in 2003, I moved back to California to take up a position at Heitz Cellars in the Napa Valley, before moving to Fritz Winery in 2005.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: My aim is to craft wines that exemplify the distinct attributes of the exceptional terroir that they come from.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Brad. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Dry Creek Valley Estate Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BRAD: Hi, Agent Red. It is great to be working with you, again!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BRAD: Growing up in Australia, I was inspired by wines that were being produced in my “backyard.”
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BRAD: I am influenced by a wine that is created with a minimalist approach.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
BRAD: I try to create wines that can be appreciated by a variety of consumers.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BRAD: t is 100% Estate grown. It has a lot of red fruit and a little spice and pepper.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BRAD: Braised short ribs.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Dry Creek Valleyso special?
BRAD: The Fritz estate has a unique micro climate – it is located in a little valley of its own within Dry Creek Valley which tends to be cooler.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BRAD: I am blending the 2010 Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Dry Creek Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Estate Malbec.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BRAD: Have our wines with the company of good food and great friends. Our wines can be savored now or can be aged for years to come.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
BRAD: Thank you for supporting Fritz Underground Winery! Cheers!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Fritz Underground Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
The grapes for this wine are grown on the valley floor of the winery property. This unique site produces a wine that is rich in color, with aromas of blackberries, red currants, spice and hints of cocoa. Well structured tannins and balanced acidity lead to flavors of blackberry, Bing cherries and red licorice.
The Vineyard: This small 5-acre vineyard is located on the winery property in a unique small valley between the Dry Creek and Alexander Valley’s. The vines are an average age of 25 years.
About The Winery:
Pretend that you are far away in the Northern California wine country tucked away in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. High upon a hill nestled into the side of a hill is our subterranean winery. Jay and Barbara Fritz purchased this pristine property in 1970. After spending get away weekends from San Francisco at this rich Sonoma property for many years, the Fritz family decided to build a winery in 1979.
Today our credo is to approach winemaking as an art form. Art, in its truest sense, inspires a shift in consciousness. Our mission is to create wines of genuine artistry, capable of transforming the way we think about the potential of Sonoma County’s premier appellations.
The new generation of Fritz wines began with a commitment to unequivocal quality. Since 1996, changes at Fritz Winery have been swift and dramatic: Volume has been slashed by two-thirds to only 12,000 cases per vintage. New winemaking equipment is both esoteric and state-of-the-art. An underground cave ages all red wines. The vast majority of wines are vinified on native yeast. All white wines are currently single-vineyard designates, with red wines now in barrel soon to follow suit.
The result? Cognoscenti now rank Fritz wines among California’s top tier producers. Our limited edition wines now command a following among serious collectors. One hundred per cent of Fritz wines are sold on allocation. And the best is yet to come.
Keep in mind that our vineyards are our greatest asset. Like the most celebrated wines of France, our limited edition single-vineyard wines showcase the singular expression of each superb viticultural site.
From the perfect microclimate of the Dry Creek Valley, we produce Sauvignon Blanc, Old Vine Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Since we have the best of both worlds, we also have property in the very cool growing region of the Russian River Valley where we produce world class single vineyard Chardonnays.
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley